Notre Dame may not have instilled a bounty of confidence in its middling 24-16 victory over Ball State (1-1) on Saturday, but the Irish (2-0) also did not create many questions. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has already doubled down on his starting quarterback and offensive line, to no rational thinking’s surprise.
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The one position perhaps in more than exisential doubt is a carryover from the season opener, another disappointing performance again putting sophomore kickoff specialist Jonathan Doerer in the figurative crosshairs. Doerer sent a second-quarter kick out of bounds, gifting the Cardinals field position at the 35-yard line. Suffice it to say, Kelly was not pleased with Doerer’s fourth dismal kickoff in just two weeks.
Why does Doerer not always kick the ball out of the end zone a la his effort early in the second half? On the other three kick returns, Ball State got to the eight-, 21- and 21-yard lines. That average of the 17 is notably worse than a default starting position of the 25. If the Irish can gain those few yards of field position reliably, they would be foolish not to take them.
As long as Doerer puts it in doubt with kicks out of bounds, though, there will be a question of if/when senior Justin Yoon takes over those duties.
Consider this a second of many reminders, Notre Dame kicks off at 2:30 p.m. ET this week. How many Irish fans will forget that and tune in halfway through the second quarter? Presumably too many.
Shift your day forward by an hour, get to bed an hour earlier. Lose an hour of sleep, skip your workout. Whatever needs to be adjusted, just do not forget about the change.
Will Wake Forest even get the chance to upset Boston College on Thursday? It is not a typo: The Demon Deacons are touchdown-underdogs at home against the Eagles at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday. Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm at the moment, is projected to make landfall in the Carolinas sometime Thursday. Common sense suggests football should not be played in hurricanes.
As it relates to Notre Dame football, the Irish arrive in Winston-Salem a week later. If Wake Forest does not play Thursday, suddenly it loses the advantage of an elongated week of preparation for the Irish.
What time will Notre Dame play next week at Wake Forest?
It was announced earlier Monday, the Sept. 22 kickoff will be at noon ET on ABC, almost-assuredly the only noon kickoff on the Irish schedule this season.
Again, remember, the Vanderbilt game this week is at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Will Ball State’s newfound confidence carry over? The Cardinals travel to Indiana this week, currently 14-point underdogs (12 p.m. ET). They just played Notre Dame tough, though, and if there was ever a week to believe in a Power Five upset, it may be against the Hoosiers.
“We’re in a good spot right now with [understanding expectations],” Ball State head coach Mike Neu said Saturday. “All of our guys believe and know that, and we’re champing at the bit to have success.”